Weeks after defamation case, Kejriwal, Jaitley share stage in Bengal

On the very day the Centre termed the Delhi government-appointed Gopal Subramanium panel to probe alleged corruption in DDCA as 'unconstitutional and illegal', in a rather odd coincidence, Arun Jaitley and Arvind Kejriwal found themselves sharing the same dais in Kolkata, separated by an even number of chairs, during the two-day Global Bengal Summit which got under way on Friday.

This was the first time that the union Finance minister was on the same stage with the Delhi chief minister since filing a criminal defamation and a civil suit against him.

The duo was also present during Thursday night's dinner at the city's Eco Tourism Park hosted by the West Bengal chief minister. However, that was not a public event.

In a dramatic turn of events since the CBI raided the office of Kejriwal's principal secretary in an alleged corruption case, the Aam Aadmi Party supremo retaliated with an allegation that Jaitley had presided over large-scale corruption during his 13-year-stint as DDCA chief.

Weeks after defamation case, Kejriwal, Jaitley share stage in Bengal

Arun Jaitley and Arvind Kejriwal. Image courtesy: ibnlive

Kejriwal followed up his charge by constituting a probe headed by former Solicitor General Subramanium.
And the bitterness between the two escalated on Friday as the home ministry, through Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung, issued a notification that since Delhi is not a full-fledged state, it has no power to appoint a panel.

As Mamata Banerjee literally ran around felicitating her invitees which included the who's who of Indian industry, a clutch of foreign dignitaries and a generous gathering of central ministers, Jaitley and Kejriwal, with two chairs between them, seemed to be carefully avoiding each other.

If photo-journalists were hoping to catch the sparring duo shake hands with each other or even flash a fleeting smile, they were to be disappointed as the closest they came to acknowledging each other's presence was when the Delhi CM appeared to greet Jaitley while he was returning to his seat after delivering his speech.

The Union Finance and I&B Minister, though, was well out of the venue when Kejriwal rose to speak.

The Delhi chief minister, never one to shy away from utilizing an opportunity, used the Bengal Global Business Summit to talk about the 'success' of his odd-even scheme in Delhi.

He said the Aam Admi Party's implementation of the radical idea has proved a point or two to its critics.

"The stunning success of odd-even scheme has showed that we are not anarchists. We can govern too. If  needed, though, we can still sit on a dharna," he said.

As the West Bengal chief minister sat listening to him on the dais, Kejriwal made a passionate speech pitching Delhi as an investment destination.

"If people in India get the right leader who can implement the right system, they can surpass any country in the world...Even since coming to power, we have doubled our spending in healthcare and education. We have simplified NoCs to set up business, cancelled 200 affidavits and we are making Delhi the best place in terms of ease of business," said Kejriwal.

Just after his speech though, Bengal finance minister seemed to be pointing at the Delhi CM while claiming that Bengal is the No.1 among states in terms of ease of doing business.

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Updated Date: Jan 08, 2016 19:45:35 IST

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